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Why Should Every Parent have a Will?

If you have children, the consequences of not having a will may be dire. If you are or know someone who is a single parent, divorced, currently married, or remarried, this article is for you as it sheds some light on how not having a will may affect whether and how your loved ones are provided for.
Alvin T'ngThu Aug 05 2021

Wills and Parenthood. These two are things that should go closely together, but are rarely spoken of in the same sentence.

If you have children, the consequences of not having a will may be dire. If you are or know someone who is a single parent, divorced, currently married, or remarried, this article is for you as it sheds some light on how not having a will may affect whether and how your loved ones are provided for.

Death is a taboo topic in Singapore. While we may shy away from such conversations, the importance of such a conversation cannot be understated.

The truth is, if you talk about and plan for the eventuality of death, you can help your loved ones mentally and emotionally prepare for it and be able to understand how better to distribute your assets to provide for your beneficiaries when drafting your Will.

Conversations about Death: as a Parent.

As a parent, what the future should hold for our children should something untoward happen to us is a continual source of concern.

If, as a parent, you do not have a Will, the welfare of your child after your death may be quite uncertain. If you do not have a Will, the distribution of your assets will be in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act. If you pass leaving your spouse and children, 50% of your assets will go to your spouse, and the other 50% will go to your children in equal portions.

This may sound fine, but what if one of your children requires more attention and more resources than the other? Or, what if it makes more sense for everything to go to your spouse first, since your children are still young? Without a Will, this is beyond your control.

If you pass without a Will leaving only your children, your child may be left without an immediate guardian. The court is left to appoint a guardian for your child, and this appointment may not be in line with your wishes.

It is therefore advisable for parents to have a Will drafted to ensure that your child will be provided for.

In particular, Parents with young children looking to draft a Will may wish to consider the following: 1. The testamentary guardian appointed in your Will should be someone whom you can trust to care for your child until they turn 21; and 2. The guardian will also hold your child assets for them (in trust) until they turn 21, and the Guardianship of Infants Act regulates what the guardian may do with your child’s property.

Conversations about Death: Remarrying with Children.

If you are divorced, have children from that previous marriage and are thinking about remarrying or have just remarried, then you should note that getting married will revoke Wills which you had previously drawn up under the Wills Act. This means that if you had a Will drawn up prior to getting remarried, that Will no longer has legal effect if you pass on suddenly.

Without a Will, the Intestate Succession Act will take effect. As above, if you pass on leaving your new spouse and children, 50% of your assets will go to your new spouse, and the remaining 50% will go to your children. It must be noted that ‘children’ refers to legitimate and adopted children [1], and step-children which have not been adopted and those born out of wedlock may not inherit anything.

If you are marrying or have married someone who has children, the children would not be entitled to your estate unless you adopt them. You would have to formally adopt the children by virtue of an order of court if you wish to leave your estate to the children. Or, if you want to avoid the cost and hassle of a formal adoption, you could have your Will drafted with WillCraft from only $49 [2] and have full control over the distribution of your estate.

Conversations about Death: as a Single Parent (or if you have children out of wedlock)

If you’re a single parent and your child was born out of wedlock, then you most definitely should think about writing a Will. If you don’t have a Will, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act read with the Legitimacy Act.

In the Intestate Succession Act, a “child” is defined as a legitimate child or one adopted by virtue of an order of court. Since this definition does not have illegitimate children, does this mean that illegitimate children are not entitled to receive a share in your assets upon your death unless there is a Will?

Well, maybe. Section 10 of the Legitimacy Act, provides that an illegitimate child will receive a share of his or her biological mother’s inheritance upon her death only if the biological mother does not have any surviving legitimate children. This essentially means that the illegitimate child is last in the pecking order where the priority of distribution of assets is concerned.

This may mean that unless the child is legitimised by marrying the other biological parent, or if you formally adopt the child which terminates the rights of the other biological parent or if you have a Will drafted, that child may not get an inheritance.

To find out more about the formal adoption process, you may visit the MSF website!

Conversations about Death: Parents with young or needy Children.

If you have young or needy children, there’s more. Ensuring that your child is provided for at all times would definitely be one of your priorities. If you pass on intestate, your assets may be frozen for a prolonged period. This means that your assets, which may include joint bank accounts, might be frozen until the grant of Letters of Administration is obtained and this process is not only lengthy but also expensive (with the money coming out of your estate).

In view of the above, parents should have a Will drafted. This would safeguard and provide for your loved ones.

Too busy to make multiple trips to a lawyer’s office? Fret not, WillCraft has got you covered. From only $49 [3], you can draft your own Will online, and our easy to use platform guides you through the entire process. If you need more time to think about your Will, WillCraft is for you as our platform lets you save your work and return later, and you don’t need to complete your Will in one sitting.

Well what are you waiting for? Start today!

[1] Wills Act (Chapter 352, Revised Edition 1996), s 3. [2] This excludes GST and third party transaction fees. [3] This excludes GST and third party transaction fees.


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